The top finisher in Haiti’s disputed presidential vote confirmed his participation Wednesday in a rerun of the first round, legitimizing the scheduled Oct. 9 elections despite his party’s threat to protest.
Jovenel Moïse — who goes by the Creole nickname “Neg Banana Nan,” which translates to “Banana man” and the pick of former President Michel Martelly — registered on the final day that the 54 original contenders had to confirm their participation. Former Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, who finished third, also confirmed his candidacy as he led supporters to the elections office on horseback.
Martelly’s PHTK party had vowed not to go into elections with interim president Jocelerme Privert still at the helm. Privert remains in office even though his 120-day mandate under a Feb. 5 political accord expired on June 14.
On Tuesday, a session of both houses of parliament that was supposed to decide Privert’s fate was aborted after some lawmakers cited security concerns when rocks were thrown at parliament. Some parliamentarians responded by pulling out guns. On Wednesday, the head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, strongly condemned the acts of violence inside the parliament.
At least 24 presidential contenders have agreed to participate in the rerun race including fourth-place finisher Dr. Maryse Narcisse of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, and No. 2 finisher Jude Célestin. The former head of the state construction agency, Célestin registered on Tuesday, celebrating the act by walking on top of a parked car to greet cheering supporters. He received the endorsements of three other top presidential vote finishers, who accompanied him to the registration.
Célestin and other opposition candidates had alleged that the earlier election was tainted by “massive fraud.” As a result, Célestin had refused to participate in a January runoff until a verification and evaluation of the vote occurred.
Earlier this month Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council announced that it would accept the recommendations of a special verification commission to rerun the vote because it was plagued with irregularities and fraud. The international community, which disagrees with the commission’s findings and methodology, has reluctantly agreed with the rerun decision.